PORBANDAR- The city where Mahatama
Gandhi was born
The ancient port of the
Saurashtra peninsula, on the Arabian Sea is mentioned in Skanda Puran as
Sudamapuri and Ashmavati. It is the city of a mythological story about
the great friendship between Lord Krishna and Sudama. Porbadar was the
last capital of the Jethwa Rajputs, who ruled this area for about 1200
years – shifting capitals from Ghumli, Ranpur and Chhaya. Present day
Porbadar was established as a capital by Rana Sartanji in 1785 AD.
Porbandar originally a fortified town, with high rampart walls, bastions
and five gates, lost its fortification by the order of Colonel Lally in
1888 AD. Even today, a ritual to circumambulate the fortification is
performed by Hindus.
The prosperity of
Porbandar was due to maritime trade and it was a thriving port in the
Mughal period. It was attacked by the Portuguese in the wake of
achieving supremacy over sea trade in 1531 AD. The Walker Treaty of 1807
AD between the ruling clans of Saurashtra and the British put an end to
the feuds and it resulted in a favorable environment for the civic
development of the Porbandar State.
The most impressive feature of
Porbandar is the city planning and the stone buildings with ashlars
masonry and rich carving. The facades of the houses on either side of
the streets, with series of windows, carved gateways, using eclectic
architectural language, invites tourist to experience the streetscape on
foot. The series of vistas enriched by a skyline of temples and
beautiful public buildings and edifices overlooking the sea on Marine
Drive puts Porbandar on the list of coastal heritage towns of Gujarat.
Kirti Mandir is built next to the
birthplace of Mahatama Gandhi, who was born here in 1869 AD. Lacs of
Indian tourists visit the house of the Mahatama and Kasturba, his wife.
Kirti Mandir has a Gandhian library and a prayer hall.
There is no Indian, who has not heard
of the legendary friendship of king and devotee – Krishna and Sudama –
starting from the ashram of Sandipani Rishi and culminating at the court
of Lord Krishna, in the city of gold, Dwarika. The story comes alive
with the sight of a beautiful temple in the middle of Porbandar town. In
whole of India, this is the only temple dedicated to Sudama. The maze on
the platform in the campus is an interesting feature.
Rana Sartanji built Darbargadh, the
fortified palace, with a huge carved stone entrance gate flanked by high
turrets and massive wooden doors. It is a typical example of such royal
enclosures situated within the town of Gujarat. The nearby edifices on
the left of the entrance are also good examples of large mansions with
courtyards and intricately carved wooden elements.
Rana Sartanji built the three-storeyed
summer pavilion, Sartanji Choro in Rajput style as a retreat in the
midst of the garden, each side representing a different season. The
pillars with images of musicians, profusely carved foliated arches and a
single done at the top gives an idea of bygone days, when Rana Sartanji
used to compose poems in Braj bhasha, sitting under this pavilion.
Huzoor Palace is located at the end of
Marine Drive, in a huge campus. The sprawling palace, built in the
European style with sloping roofs is a horizontal structure with several
wings and big windows, overlooking the sea. The wings are interspersed
with the back and front yards, bringing nature and the building together
by gardens and fountains. The semi circular porticos with neo classical
pillars, decorated entrance gate and commanding view makes it a must for
the visitor. Other such examples of royal and public heritage buildings
from the colonial period are public library, old Raj Mahal (now a
college), Victoria Jubilee Madresa, Collectorate, Bhavsinhji High
School, Natwarsinhji Sports Club.